Press Releases

Dec 5, 2012

Biamp Systems Releases Report on the Hazardous Levels of Noise in Everyday Life

BEAVERTON, Oregon — The amounts of sustained noise people are subjected to in everyday life have reached unsafe levels, according to a new report authored by leading sound experts and published today. Building in Sound, developed by Biamp Systems in collaboration with acoustics expert and TED speaker Julian Treasure, reports that everyday noise levels regularly exceed World Health Organization's (WHO) recommended levels. The study draws clear links between excessive noise and poor acoustics and ill-health, distraction and loss of productivity, even disruption to educational development.

Drawing on a variety of academic, government and industry body sources, the paper has identified the economic and social impacts noise can have on everyday life – whether in a city, at work, in a classroom, or in a hospital.
Examples of the sort of noise levels urban populations are regularly exposed to include:


  • An air conditioning unit puts out sounds of 55 decibels. At this level, sleep is impaired and the risk of heart disease increases. Yet an average busy office has been recorded at 65 decibels.

  • Street traffic has been recorded at 70 decibels. Regular unprotected exposure to the same level of noise can lead to permanent hearing loss.

  • The average noise of a motorway is around 85 decibels, the same point at which US Federal Law mandates hearing protection for prolonged exposure.


The study also looks at much needed solutions to the issues – given that road traffic noise is estimated to cost between 30 and 46 billion Euros a year ($39 and 60 billion USD a year), or 0.4% of GDP in the European Union.1 It calls for an integrated approach to acoustic design that incorporates cutting edge sound technology with a more thoughtful approach to architectural design and construction. Properly executed, managing sound can lead to higher employee productivity and job satisfaction, lower crime rates in urban environments, and increased sales in business.

Julian Treasure, chairman of The Sound Agency, said: "Noise is a major threat to our health and productivity – but until now we have been largely unconscious of its effects because of our obsession with how things look. We need to start designing with our ears, creating buildings and public spaces that sound as good as they look. If we do that, we can transform the productivity and wellbeing of office workers, patients in hospitals and children in schools, among many others."

Graeme Harrison, vice president of marketing at Biamp Systems, said: "This isn't a call for silence, but an appeal to start considering the effects poorly managed sound can have. The right sound and acoustics can transform education, healthcare and work, but we have to address the problem now because it's only going to become more difficult in the future. We have the technology and expertise to manage the acoustics of new and existing environments, but now's the time to act and build in sound."

The full report and infographic are available for download.

1 SILENCE – Recommendations: Practitioner Handbook for Local Noise Action Plans: European Commission Sixth Framework Programme

About Biamp Systems
Biamp Systems is a leading provider of innovative, networked media systems that power the world’s most sophisticated audio/video installations. The company is recognized worldwide for delivering high-quality products and backing each one with a commitment to exceptional customer service. 

Biamp is dedicated to creating products that drive the evolution of communication through sight and sound. The award-winning Biamp product suite includes: Tesira® media system for digital audio and video networking, Devio® collaboration tool for modern workplaces, Audia® digital audio platform, Nexia® digital signal processors, and Vocia® networked public address and voice evacuation system. Each has its own specific feature set that can be customized and integrated in a wide range of applications, including corporate boardrooms, conference centers, huddle rooms, performing arts venues, courtrooms, hospitals, transportation hubs, campuses, and multi-building facilities.

Founded in 1976, Biamp is headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon, USA, with additional engineering operations in Brisbane, Australia, and Rochester, New York. For more information on Biamp, please visit www.biamp.com.

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